RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - The State House Wednesday passed a local bill to change the Charter of the City of Wilmington, which will also make it more difficult for citizens to get a proposal on the ballot for a vote.
By two voice-votes, House lawmakers passed HB1083, which would amend the charter regarding the minimum number of signatures a citizen needs to get on a petition to bring an ordinance up for a vote of the people. The three House members who represent the City of Wilmington, Rep. Ted Davis, Rep. Rick Catlin and Rep. Susi Hamilton are the primary sponsors of the bill.
Rep. Davis (R-New Hanover) spoke on the bill on the House floor. Davis said leaders from the City of Wilmington took the issue to lawmakers. Currently a citizen proposing to have an issue put up for a vote needs to submit a petition to City Council with enough signatures to equal 25 percent of the "number of votes cast in the last municipal election". Davis explained with several members of city council running in municipal elections, one citizen casts more than one vote. He said the "number of registered voters at the time of the last municipal election" is a more stable number to base the 25 percent on, because it will not fluctuate as much as the number of votes cast in an election.
When another lawmaker questioned whether that total would make it tougher for citizens to reach the threshold, Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) told the body that all members of the city's delegation favor the change, and she requested members support the bill.
Using the City of Wilmington's 2015 Municipal Election totals (from the State Board of Elections website), the threshold for citizens to reach would increase dramatically, from about 2,367 signatures (25 percent of votes cast) to about 22,561 signatures (25 percent of registered voters).
The bill now moves to the state Senate, where Rep. Davis says Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) and Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) both support it.
To read the text of HB 1083 click here: http://bit.ly/1TWLQs6